By Dr. Audrey Davidheiser, Crosswalk.com
Are you hosting a dying dream?
Has another year vanished and, with it, the chance to see your desire materialize? Dreams that are yet to be realized tend to plunge into the same dreary end.
Each non-fruitful year lurches them closer to annihilation.
Our world suffers from an ongoing pandemic of dying dreams. Scores of people stumble around in a daze, their dreams languishing. A stunning statistic suggests half of womankind has done so.
Some give up because of financial hardship. Transforming our desires into the real deal requires much money, which competes with survival instincts. Paying bills. Feeding the family.
Others give up because of a lack of confidence.
But there’s one common factor behind every decision to quit pursuing dreams: a lack of support.
If you can relate, consider this article your own personal cheering section.
Here are five steps to reach your dream:
1. Who Is It From?
One main reason a dream never materializes is if we author it ourselves. Even if it takes off, a dream borne out of our own flesh will eventually peter out. That’s what a wise religious leader pointed out once: “if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail” (Acts 5:38).
Yes, I’ve shared five tests to discern whether your dream is from God. But one article can’t exempt you from needing to develop the sensitivity to hear God’s voice.
Every child of God should nourish their ability to hear from God. Perhaps that’s why many pastors and authors alike have produced podcasts and paperbacks to explain this, usually in the neighborhood of quieting your soul.
My way is through Internal Family Systems (IFS), a modality that offers remarkable results in alleviating mental and emotional pain. More to the point of our discussion, however, IFS can help us distinguish the voice of our own souls from that of God’s.
Perhaps this outcome has something to do with IFS’ tenacious focus on finetuning our spirit’s attention on our soul. To put it in its terminology, IFS helps our Self listen to our Parts.
Once these Parts feel seen and validated, they naturally quiet down—enabling us to hear the Spirit of God in us.
Regardless of how you choose to do it, it’s imperative to learn the skills to hear the heavenly Voice. Get to know how hearing His voice feels in your body. Familiarize yourself with the aftermath of His nudges. For instance, if you feel discouraged or condemned, it wasn’t the Lord you listened to (Romans 8:1).
Dive into biblical accounts of the different ways men and women have heard from God:
through situations (Moses and the burning bush, Exodus 3:1-17);
God’s representative (Hannah and the priest, 1 Samuel 1:1-18);
dreams (an angel instructed Joseph while he slept, Matthew 1:18-25);
sensing what pleased the Holy Spirit (the early Church in Acts 15:28).
Every other step hinges on this one, so commit to cultivating your ability to hear from God.
2. Dream Again (and Again)
We work in a worried world. The overabundance of stress surrounding us can diminish our drive to dream again.
This has been my experience as a writer.
Even though the bulk of my training has been in psychology, I’ve also been writing for close to six years. That’s six years of pitching, receiving rejection emails (sometimes, stark silence), and sitting with disappointment.
An entire book manuscript—with its catchy title, mind you—is idling in a folder even now.
I share the above because there’s no shame in acknowledging your need for a hope booster. So, if this describes you, especially if you don’t have any active dreams, let’s address it first. Carrying your dream to fruition is hard to do with hopelessness hovering nearby.
3. Fully Obey
Who tucked that dream into your heart? If the answer is God, go all out. Obey His directives. (Here is another reason why nobody can bypass the need to hear from God. How would we know which path to pursue otherwise?)
As you seek His face, you might sense God prodding you to adopt something beyond your wheelhouse. Or an activity with a hefty price tag. Or a puzzling plan, given the state of the economy.
Mary, Jesus' mother, models for us a response to any mandate from God, wild or otherwise: “Do whatever He tells you” (Matthew 2:5, CSB).
I can imagine someone frowning in return. But things are more expensive nowadays.
Obey anyway. If it’s God’s will, He’ll pay the bill. Your job is to just obey.
Do you hardly have time to tackle your to-do list, much less lay out the foundation to pursue your heart’s desire? Share this dilemma with Him. Ask for the wisdom to execute His Word in the face of your external constraints.
Obey God to the best of your ability.
Is there anyone who enjoys their dream after only a brief incubation time? Let me know if you’ve encountered any such anecdotes. I’d like to interview him or her because, for most of us, it’s customary to wait—and wait—before that God-given dream hatches.
Joseph endured 13 hard years of trials, including unforeseen exile and unjust imprisonment, before governing Egypt as Pharaoh’s second-in-command (Genesis 37-41:46).
However, waiting isn’t relegated to just biblical characters. Many contemporary figures went through a trying period before their promotion:
Walt Disney was fired because he “lacked imagination.” (Ha!) Disney’s first companies went belly up. He also had a distributor who stole the rights to a character he created prior to Mickey Mouse.
Dr. Seuss received 27 rejection letters for his first book.
Vera Wang didn’t commence her career in the fashion industry until she hit 40—and only after she failed to make the Olympic team for figure skating.
Colonel Sanders’ resume pre-KFC includes being fired from a dozen jobs and starting a restaurant, which then failed. He went broke at age 65.
What are you supposed to do while patiently waiting? Grow in your craft. Yes, your dream will make room for you (Proverbs 18:16), but at the same time, you need to make room for it. If you don’t practice your Arabic, how will you flourish as a full-time missionary to Morocco? How can you make a living as a professional pianist unless you master those scales first?
Use this waiting time to exercise whatever fundamental skills constitute the building blocks of your dream.
But that’s not all. It’s also vital to use this time to stoke growth in your spirit. John the Baptist had to grow spiritually before his public ministry began (Luke 1:80). Want to hear a shocker? Jesus did, too (Luke 2:52).
If the Son of God announced He could do nothing of Himself (John 5:19), who are we to assume we can one-up Him?
Introducing . . . the Beginning
One reason I’m qualified to compose this article is because I’ve had to wait for a slew of things. Including my own literary agent.
The publishing world considers it risky to invest in a no-name with a growing but modest following. Why should they, when famous and proven authors abound?
But even we unknown folks get to relish a plot twist when God orchestrates our dreams.
I now have a book agent.
The road to publication still winds long, but let the confetti fall anyway. I’ll cheer and celebrate as I climb the trail ahead.
I hope my testimony buoys your spirit.
After all, I arrived at this milestone only after clinging to the above steps.
Our God doesn’t play favorites (Romans 2:11); therefore, if your dream is God-driven, you will whoop at your own victory too.
Imagine what will happen if we all keep at it until the time of birth arrives for our God-given dreams. Think of the glorious impact—the avalanche of heaven-infused dreams unfurled on earth.
This way, we win twice. First, we get to rejoice at the fulfillment of our dreams. But we also get to utilize our stories as a witnessing tool for those who don’t yet know the Lord and who might have deserted their dreams.
So, let’s persevere until we reach our dreams, shall we?
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/kieferpix
Audrey Davidheiser, PhD is a California licensed psychologist, certified Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapist and IFSI approved clinical consultant, as well as author of Surviving Difficult People: When Your Faith and Feelings Clash. After founding and directing a counseling center for the Los Angeles Dream Center, she now devotes her practice to survivors of trauma—including spiritual abuse. Visit her on www.aimforbreakthrough.com